Tips for New Tablet and E-reader Owners

kindle-254339_640If you were lucky enough to get a new tablet or e-read for the holidays, congratulations! There is so much to do with set up and finding lots of new books to read. To help with those chores, here is a roundup of some of my most popular posts on some of the basics that you may find helpful:

Tips for setting up your new device:

Cases and Covers for your device:

If you are looking for free books:

Setting up and managing your new book collection:

And finally, if you are considering buying yourself and dedicated e-reader with your Christmas Cash:

Have fun playing with your new device!

The first 10 things you should do on your new ereader or tablet

tablet_bowNote: The order in which these are completed may vary from device to device. I was also trying to make sure this advice applied as much as possible to most e-readers, tablets and phones. Therefore, I may have broken some sort of a world’s record for the number of times I use the word device, LOL! Sorry!  🙂

First thing, charge the device. The device probably comes partially charged. Is a good idea to make sure it has a full charge before you start any kind of heavy use. You can usually still use the device for setup and personalization while it’s plugged in and charging.

Read/watch the tutorial. If this is a new device, go through the tutorial and familiarize yourself with the device.  Kindles, for example, generally only show the tutorial the first time you boot up the e-reader. Other devices, like Samsung tablets, allow you to choose whether or not to show the tutorial again. Watching the tutorial helps to familiarize yourself with how the device works. If this is an upgrade from a previous model, this will clue you in to what you need to know to understand the changes.

Set up the Wi-Fi (and the cellular service). Generally, Wi-Fi controls are found under settings. Most devices will scan for available Wi-Fi networks, ask you to choose a network and then ask you to enter your password. If your device uses GSM, you will need to insert the Sim card  and then follow your carrier’s instructions to activate it.

Don’t skip the update!  The first thing many devices do is to perform a software update. Don’t skip this step! Your device will run much more smoothly and securely with the latest software version installed.

Set up your accounts. Most of today’s devices are personal and designed for one person’s private use. Whether it’s a phone,  a Kindle, a Chromebook or an iPad, setting up your account is crucial. It personalizes your device and auto fills most of your profile information. Essentially, it does most of the hard work for you. If you have a device which allows you to set up family or multiple profiles, it is easiest to add them right at the beginning. Remember, if you have accounts with services such as Amazon, iTunes, or Google play, all your content is tied to your account. By setting up your account on the new device, you authorize all your content to be available for the new device.

Personalize. Every device has a settings and or preferences section. Here, you can personalize and send aspects of the device to your personal preferences. These settings can include basics such as setting how the clock displays, choosing a time zone, or changing the colors and setting your home screen. There are also advanced settings where you can manage preferences such as passwords, parental controls, languages, dictionaries and connects social media accounts.

Download and re-load. Depending on the device, you may find content already waiting for you. Kindles and Fire tablets allow you to send purchased content to the device before it is even delivered. If you already own content, you can find your previously purchased content in the cloud, waiting to be downloaded. Some tablet manufacturers (such as Samsung and Apple) will install everything from your old device onto a new one from a recent backup.

Get yourself a cover! Do yourself a favor and get some sort of a skin, cover or case for your device. Accidents happen and you want to protect your investment. There is a wide variety of accessories available, making it easy to find something you like at a reasonable price.

Play with it! The best way to familiarize yourself with a new piece of technology used to use it! Allow yourself some time to play with the device to learn how it works and get comfortable with it. Try to use the device under low stress situations until you’re used to it. You’ll learn more and have a lot more fun.

Keep it plugged in! I know. You were told that this blank had an incredible battery life, right? So, why am I telling you to keep it plugged in? Most electronics batteries perform better after several charges. In the case of Kindles, the e-reader actually reads every book you put on the device. This process is called indexing. It allows the Kindle to search for a particular word or phrase. This process occurs every time you add a book to the Kindle, even ones that use sideload manually. The indexing process uses a lot of battery power and if you’re adding a lot of books or adding them on a regular basis, for best performance, keep the battery plugged in.

Any questions, leave it in the comments and I will try to help. 🙂

You can more resources for new e-readers and tablets on the New e-reader? Start Here page.

Managing your Google Play Books Library

Screenshot_2014-08-04-20-02-16Here’s a nice tutorial with screenshots from the folks at Android Central on how to manage your Google Play Books library on your Android device.

The article shows two methods for removing books: one from the Play Books home screen and the other for removing from “My Library.”

Note that this article refers to removing books from your phone or your tablet. The procedure is slightly different for the web version of the Play bookstore.

 

 

Daily Links: Open Road launches series for controversial books

From Publishers Weekly: Open Road launches series for controversial books

From the eBookReader.com: Kobo Website formatting tip on how to identify ePub types

From Teleread: Opening Nook books in Adobe Digital Editions

From Vox (via the Digital Reader): 7 Things the most-highlighted passages from Kindles tell us

From the Digital Reader: Missing in Action: The Kindle Paperwhite 3

Today, Amazon has a Refurbished Kindle Fire HD 8.9 with 4G LTE  as the Bonus Deal of the Day. It is $199 for the 32GB version.This is the older version with the micro-HDMI port and the 4G coverage is set up for AT & T coverage.

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news.

Did You Know: Quick Fix for a Frozen Screen

Here’s a quick fix for when your Kindle is running slow or freezes entirely:

  • Press (or slide) the power button and HOLD for 20 seconds.
  • After 20 seconds, release the power button.  (On the Kindle Fire, press the power button again.)
  • The Kindle start up screen will appear shortly.

Here are more troubleshooting tips,  with pictures, including a nifty timer to count down the seconds to hold down your power button. 🙂

 

New Category: Did You Know?

question markI get asked a lot for tips and tricks and how-to information, so I thought I would add a category where I could post small bits of information that wouldn’t normally be substantial or long enough for a traditional blog entry.

So, to start:

Did you know that your Kindle reads every book and document you put on it? It does this so that it can index every word and make them searchable. It does this even if you add the books yourself (a process called sideloading). The indexing process can take a while, especially if you add a large number of books. It really drains the battery, making it very important to keep your e-reader plugged in when you have just added new books. So don’t fill your e-reader right before a cruise or a long flight – otherwise, your battery may let you down. 😦

Managing Your Free Kindle Books, Part Two: Choosing Wisely and Pre-Organizing

This is the second in a three-part series. Part One is here. Most of the information in this series of posts is specific to the Kindle line of e-readers  and the Amazon bookstore.

In Part One, we looked at an overview of some of the problems that can be caused by having too many books on your Kindle or Kindle Fire. The same is true of the Kindle for PC app for your computer or mobile device. While this is just as true for paid books as it is for free ones, the nature of free tends to tempt us to overload our Kindles.

It is also interesting to note that even if a Kindle is not actually malfunctioning due to too many books (freezing, inability to download or highlight,etc.), many people find that as they get more and more books on their Kindles, the device runs much more slowly (slower page turns, slower search, etc.).

So how do we deal with this? The answer is not to avoid free books! There are some great bargains in the free offerings and I have discovered some tremendously gifted authors through their free books, authors such as Hugh Howey, Keith C. Blackmore,and many others.

What we can do is choose more wisely what books to put on our Kindle.  Why is this important? Because the best way to organize is not to put books (paid or free) on the Kindle in the first place that you are ultimately not going to read.  Think of it as pre-organizing and a way cut down on the Kindle clutter.

Keep lists of the books you want to read:  This is as simple and as old-fashioned as it gets. Write down the name of the title and the author. You can make this as low tech (pen and paper) or as high-tech (MS Word, Evernote or even Notepad for the Kindle) as you are comfortable with. Personally, I use Evernote and have a TBR note where I jot down the title and author, a link to a buy page or the review that first caught my eye. That way, I don’t forget about the book, but don’t have to download the sample to remember it. I can then check the book out at my leisure.

Recommendations:  Nowadays, the free books offered on any given day normally number in the hundreds. There are a lot of websites that list free books (EreaderIQ, Kindle Nation Daily, Books on the Knob, Pixel of Ink and many, many others). An internet search for free Kindle books will bring up pages of blogs and curated lists that can help you find books that interest you. Most of these sites give you the ability to search for books in certain categories and genres. Amazon lists the top 100 sellers, both free and paid.

Don’t have time to search through hundreds of free books to find what you like? There are also a lot of places you can get recommendations for free books without having  to sort through the listings. Most genre groups on social networking sites like GoodReads and Shelfari have a place on the message boards that is dedicated to free books of that particular genre.  And if you are looking for a particular author, check their blog, website or Twitter account: Most authors who offer their books for free on the Kindle let their fans know.

Read the reviews:  This is especially important for people who like to find books, then wait to find them free. Good, honest reviews can help you make a decision about whether to download a book or not. Yet, given some of the recent controversies over fake and purchased reviews, it can be difficult to know whether to trust them or not. If you are unsure, click on the reviewer’s name and check out the other ones that they have written.  Look for warning signs: all reviews for the same author, all five-star reviews, or if tis is the only item the person has ever reviewed. Ultimately, remember that reviews are simply the opinion of the person writing the review.

Read the samples: Often, reading the sample of the book can give you a clearer idea about whether you will like the book or not. Do you like the writer’s style and syntax? Are there grammar and spelling errors? The sample can give you an actual feel for the book.

With free books, however, you do not have the opportunity to send a sample to your Kindle or your app.  However, you can still read the sample on your computer by clicking on the Look Inside feature. And, using the feature means that’s one less sample cluttering up your Kindle. Here what it looks like for the The Man Cave Cookbook, which is free periodically.

Click=big

Sometimes, however, samples can cause as many problems as they solve. Some people have pages and pages of samples on their Kindles. Those samples take up space and memory and must be indexed, just like books. In other words, too many samples can cause the same problems as too many actual books!

Fortunately, there are several ways to help organize your samples.  One method is to send all your samples to one place. That can be your Kindle app on your computer or phone. That way, you can read a sample when you have a spare moment to read, but not enough time to get immersed in an entire book. If you have more than one Kindle, you can designate one for all your samples.

If you want to keep your Kindle totally uncluttered by samples,  you can send them to the Cloud Reader instead of your Kindle. As seen in the picture below, samples on the Cloud Reader show their covers, which can give you a visual jog to help you remember the book.

Click=big

In Part Three, we will discuss organizing your TBR pile, including more ways to organize books you haven’t even downloaded yet. Note: Due to a family emergency, part 3 was never written.

Managing your Free Kindle Books, Part One: The Problem with Free

This is the first in a three-part series. Most of the information in this series of posts is specific to the Kindle line of e-readers  and the Amazon bookstore.

A while back, I did a post on where to find free books for your Kindle. A few more are listed in this article on tips for the new Kindle Owner. When I bought my first Kindle in 2008, free books were very few and generally, offered by major publishers or their imprints. Back then, with few freebies and books going for an average of $9.99,  it made sense to grab every free book that was available. And there were some good ones: I got Tess Gerritsen’s The Surgeon (the first book in the Rizzoli and Isles series) and  Julia Spencer-Fleming’s In the Bleak Midwinter  as just a couple of my early free books.

Now, it’s a different landscape. With Amazon’s KDP Select publishing, literally hundreds of free indie books are offered daily. The number of blogs, websites and newsletters letting you know the daily free books has multiplied exponentially. Even Amazon has made it easy with a list of the top 100 bestsellers, free and paid, on their website.

So now, the TBR pile (your stash of To-Be-Read books) has become a problem of its own.

This is where the difference between digital and physical books becomes quite clear. For a print book reader, the TBR pile was self-limiting. As some point you literally run out of room, your books fall off the nightstand, or the bookshelf simply will not hold anymore.

For book lovers, digital books didn’t have that problem. No cluttered piles of books. Promises of storage for 2000 to 3000 books on your Kindle.  And, with e-readers that had expandable storage options like the first generation Kindle, you could just keep adding more and more books.

Or so it seemed. Try finding a particular book when you can’t exactly remember the name of the title. What happens when you can’t even see all your books in your archives? What happens when your battery won’t last through a book because it is constantly indexing? What if your Kindle starts to malfunction because it is too full? (And yes, that actually happens!)

So now, it seems, the problem has reversed itself: Instead of asking where do I find free books, people are asking where do I find good free books and, more importantly, how do I organize them all? Who would have ever thought that managing free books for the Kindle could actually be considered a problem?

Are you tired of sorting through lists to find free books that are actually worth your time? Maybe you are one of those people who like an uncluttered Kindle home page. Maybe you have so many books on your Kindle that you can’t find or organize them all. Maybe you are tired of books that are badly written, unedited or badly formatted.  Or, perhaps, your Kindle is actually starting to slow down or malfunction because of the sheer volume of books you own.

Over the next few blog entries, we will try to address solutions to some of those problems.

Next time in Part Two: Choosing more wisely and finding sites that will help you do just that.

And in Part Three: Organizing your Digital TBR Pile. Note: Due to a family emergency, part 3 was never written.

Ten Tips for the New eReader Owner

Please note: This article assumes you have already registered your device to your account and set up your wi-fi connection. Unless otherwise noted, these tips apply to Kindles, NOOK and Kobo readers.

1. Get a Cover

New eReader owners frequently ask, “Do I really need a cover?”

The answer is yes, you do. Really. Or a sleeve. Or a zippered pouch. But you do need something to protect the investment you’ve just made in your eReader. The screens can crack and eReaders do get dropped, stepped on and worse.

As far as covers go, there are lots of choices.  There are covers with lights like the Amazon Lighted Cover.  There are handcrafted leather covers like those from Oberon Design. You can also get sleeves and pouches. Prices range from $10 to $100, depending on size, style and material. Most are in the $30 to $75 range.

You can purchase covers anywhere eReaders are sold (including eBay). Craft sites like Etsy.com offer a variety of unique, handcrafted, one-of-a-kind covers. And if your talents run in that direction, you can find patterns and directions for DIY covers on many eReader message boards and forums.

2. Leave the eReader plugged in

Yes, I know. The ad for your eReader said that you could read for weeks on a single battery charge. And that is absolutely true. But those figures are just for reading. That’s not accounting for downloading and indexing.

Most eReader instructions are pretty clear about letting you know that you should keep the Wi-Fi turned OFF when you’re not downloading if you want to get the maximum battery life.

What they don’t tell you is that when you first start putting books on your device, it starts indexing the books so that they are searchable. This indexing causes a huge drain on the battery.  If you are a frequent book buyer or you are loading your reader up for a trip, you are going to need to recharge more frequently unless you keep it plugged in when not in use. (That applies to sideloading books as well – they still need to index.)

(And FYI, if you have one of the $79 Kindles with Special Offers,  that particular model has a shorter battery life than some of the other Kindle models. Be prepared to charge more frequently.)

3. Re-read a favorite for your first book

Imagine that someone handed you a book. You are reading along, totally engrossed in the story, until it is time to turn the page– but you don’t know how to do that. Purchasing a beloved favorite as your first book gives you a comfortable book that allows you to concentrate on learning to work the device. For example, the first book I bought for my very first Kindle was Anne McCaffrey’s The Dragonriders of Pern. 

That technique can help when learning a new model of the Kindle as well. When I first got the new Kindle Touch, it was so different from the older Kindle models, it took me a bit to figure out how to use the device. I was used to buttons, and when I was trying to use the swipe technique to tun the page and wound up advancing 10 pages. My husband, who had never used a regular Kindle, had no problems at all with the Touch. So, sometimes, even an experienced user needs to spend some time with a new reader.

4. Send it to the cloud

You do not have to wait for your Kindle, Nook or Kobo to arrive to buy books. You can purchase and send books to the cloud before your device even arrives.  On the Nook and the Kobo, the books go to your online library and then you download to the device (or app) or your choice.

On the Kindle, purchases made before your eReader arrives will be in your archive and then appear on your device once you register it. If you have more than one Kindle, you must choose which one you’d like to send the book to when you purchase the book.

But what if you want to keep your Kindle home page uncluttered? There is a way that you can send them to the cloud and not have them taking up memory on your device. Here’s how to use the feature:

  • On the right side of the screen, choose Transfer via Computer from the drop down box.
  • Click Buy Now with 1-Click.
  • If you have more than one Kindle, a screen will ask you what Kindle you plan to transfer the book to. Since you aren’t actually going to transfer the book, it doesn’t matter what you choose. Click continue.
  • A thank you screen appears:

If a dialog box opens prompting you to save, click cancel. Otherwise, click the continue shopping in the Kindle store link.

5. Try a sample

Buying digital books is a bit different than going to a bookstore. Since you can’t thumb through the book, instead, you have the opportunity to download a sample of the book to your device. The Send a Sample dialog box is on the right side of the purchase screen, underneath the purchase box.

Samples vary in length up to about 10% of the length of the book, so shorter books have shorter samples. Most are usually about a chapter or so. This gives you the opportunity to try the book before you buy it. If you like it, you can buy the book from within the sample.

6. Gift cards and budgets

One thing that eReaders do is make it easy to buy books! If you want to keep yourself on track with a budget, try this tip: Purchase a gift card for yourself and redeem it. Then, when you make purchases,  your account  balance is used first. This allows you to set (and hopefully stick to) a budget for book buying.

7. Returning a book

Understand each vendor’s eReader return policy: Barnes and Noble’s website gives a 14-day window for returning an eReader. Amazon and Kobo have a 30 day return period on devices purchased from them. For all vendors, check with customer service for restrictions and any applicable re-stocking fees. Ereaders purchased at local stores are subject to store return policies.

Returning ebooks: I could not find a stated ebook return policy on either Kobo.com or Barnesandnoble.com. Amazon gives readers 7 days to return an ebook,  although I have seen anecdotal evidence that customers who constantly abuse this feature have been contacted by Amazon about their behavior.

8. Need a little help?

Your eReader manual, customer support and the company’s website should answer many of questions about your new eReader.

Each eReader also has books available for purchase that can further your understanding of you device. For example, for the Kobo, there is the Kobo Touch Survival Guide (ironically available also in a Kindle version  as well as one for the NOOK,) There are guides for NOOKs and for the Kindles.

9. Find a community

If you want to learn more about your device or simply to discuss ideas with other users, there are a number of forums dedicated to eReaders. Here are just a few:

Most boards have a section for people with other brands of readers. The boards are also a good source of information when looking for accessories.

Mobileread forums are intended for users of many different types of device and the discussion covers  a wide variety of subjects. It is a great resource for recommendations and help on ebook format conversion and other advanced topics

10. Check out the freebies and bargains

I have written pieces on where to find legal free books for eReaders. You can read that article here.

If you are looking specifically for free books for one of the Kindles, Amazon does a list of the top 100 paid books and the top 100 free books here.

Another good source for Kindle books is Amazon’s Kindle message forum. Since Amazon created its Kindle Owners Lending Library for Prime members, there has been an average of 250 to 400 free books offered per day. Look for a discussion in the Kindle forum marked FREE BOOKS and the date (like this example).  There, you will find links to various free titles. And remember to always check the price before you purchase some books are free only for a very limited time!

Amazon also offers a Kindle Daily Deal, where one book is featured at a discount price for that day only.

You can more resources for new ereaders and tablets on the New e-reader? Start Here page.